Tuesday, June 28, 2016

An Unknown: Adonis Medina

There is a 19 year old slicing through batters like a hot knife in butter in Low-A Williamsport.  Adonis Medina has made 3 starts this season and has surrendered nary a run. 21 innings with a 0.00 ERA and 0.57 WHIP. This success shouldn't be too shocking though, as he's been nothing short of brilliant since his minor league career began.  Since 2014, Adonis has amassed 92.2 innings over 24 appearances, 13 of them starts, and has a sparkling 1.85 ERA and 0.99 WHIP.  He currently ranks 16th in MLB.com's Top 30 prospects for the Phillies. With continued excellence on the mound, he'll climb the charts by season's end.
Medina stands out already for his advanced feel for pitching that belies his age to go along with very encouraging steps forward stuff-wise. His fastball has jumped velocity wise, and he'll now throw it in the 90-95 mph range. He throws it with sink to get groundball outs and it's possible there's more in the tank to come. He spins a good breaking ball already and has feel for a changeup, both of which are inconsistent but have the chance to be at least Major League average. Medina throws strikes, but can refine his overall command to make his stuff play up even more. While the Phillies might be cautious with this teenager for the time being, his ability to execute on the mound could allow him to move a bit more quickly as he matures, with a future as a No. 3 type starter a possibility. ~MLB.com
Other Stuff:
*I've been thinking about what trade chips the Phillies have. Honestly, not much. At least nothing that will bring back a big enough haul to get excited about.  Peter Bourjos is starting to hit and has long been known for his quality defense, so maybe a playoff contender will snatch him up for a middling prospect. Jeremy Hellickson is likely to be dealt as well, but he's nothing more than a back end of the rotation arm, so no minor league studs in return for him. The one player I'd love to see traded is Chooch. He's in the final year of his contract and has plenty of playoff experience, something teams covet when it comes to veterans, especially catchers.  A team like the Astros could certainly benefit from his tutelage.

*Adam Morgan has been moved to the bullpen. I like the move. I'm not ready to give up on him as a MLB pitcher, but he needs to show some improvement, or he'll fall quickly down the depth chart that has plenty of youngsters waiting for the chance to be called up.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Series Preview: Phillies at Diamondbacks

So the system ate my Phillies at Giants preview and I didn't realize it. Well, it was about Nola and his recent struggles. I'll get into it for an upcoming post.
Let's preview this one by doing something you might not expect. There are some good things to talk about.
First off, the Phillies are winners of two of their last four games. After going 8-28, including seven and nine game losing streaks, that's a big improvement.
Second, The Phillies spend ten of their next 13 games playing against teams that are below .500. The team with the winning record has a .342 mark on the road. There's a chance to end the first half on a high note.
Third, the offense has averaged six runs a game over its past six games. Read that sentence again. Recall that it averaged fewer than 3.3 runs per game through it's first 71 games.
Now, if only we could straighten out the pitching. Hey, Vincent Velasquez is back tonight. That's a nice little shot in the arm, isn't it?
Let's look at what this series brings.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Win...

The Phillies won a game. That deserved a half-assed blog post. Yeah!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Series Preview: Phillies at Twins

On May 18, the Phillies were 24-17. They are 6-24 since.
That's horrific.
But let's look at why.
At that point, Pete Mackanin's bunch was 14-3 in one-run games. Since then, they're 1-3 in one run games. It's actually not the record that concerns me. It's that .414 percent of the Phillies games were 1-run games. Since then, only .13 percent of their games have been of that variety.
They've basically been getting smoked.
After a win on May 18, the Phillies had lost eight games by four runs or more. That's 19.5 percent. Since then, it's brutal. Twelve out of 30. In other words, they've been in about the same amount of games in which they lost by a grand slam or more since May 19 as they were in one-run games.
What happened?
Let's look at some numbers. First, we'll tackle the offense.
Times the Phillies were shut out before May 19: 1
Times the Phillies were shut out since May 19: 2
Times the Phillies scored two or fewer runs before May 19: 11
Times the Phillies scored two or fewer runs since May 19: 17, including their last six straight.
Times the Phillies scored four runs or more before May 19:  9
Times the Phillies scored four runs or more since May 19: 9
So, the offense has been far more feast or famine in recent weeks. When it's been there, it's been there. Consider this, it had three games of six runs or more before May 19, but four since.

Pitching has been the huge difference.
Times the Phillies shut out an opponent  before May 19: 6
Times the Phillies shut out an opponent since May 19: 2
Times the Phillies gave up three runs or fewer before May 19: 21
Times the Phillies gave up three runs or fewer since May 19: 9
Times the Phillies gave up 6 runs or more before May 19: 10
Times the Phillies gave up 6 runs or more since May 19: 13

So the pitching has been a big problem.
Let's look at some individuals since May 19.

Jeremy Hellickson: 4.97 ERA, 39 hits and 10 walks in 38 innings pitched, a .291 BAbip
Aaron Nola: 4.55 ERA, 41 hits and 10 walks in 31.67 innings pitched. a .376 BAbip
Jerad Eickhoff: 2.35 ERA, 35 hits and 10 walks in 38 innings pitched, a .291 BAbip
Vincent Velazquez: 8.10 ERA, 22 hits, 7 walks in 13.3 innings pitched, a .425 BAbip
Adam Morgan: 6.55 ERA, 44 hits and 6 walks in 33 innings pitched, a .337 BAbip
Zach Eflin: 10.80 ERA, 13 hits and 4 walks in 8.3 innings pitched, a .393 BAbip
Jeanmar Gomez: 3.86 ERA, 8 hits and 3 walks in 9.3 innings pitched, a .250 BAbip
Hector Neris: 5.84 ERA, 15 hits and 8 walks in 12.3 innings pitched, a .394 BAbip
David Hernandez: 5.11 ERA, 16 hits and 5 walks in 12.3 innings pitched, a .342 BAbip

That's not pretty.
Essentially, Jerad Eickhoff is the only guy pitching well. You could argue Jeremy Hellickson's ERA is a bit of an abberation based on his other numbers and he's not pitching poorly.
But that's it. Those are the main guys who take the ball for you in important situations.

Now, the Phillies are coming off an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
If these numbers keep up, or the woeful offense, changes have to occur. This team isn't talented enough to win a division or finish above .500.
But the play of late has been utterly atrocious.

Monday, June 20, 2016

F'n Terrible

The Phillies have scored a measly 220 runs this season in 70 games. That's an average of 3.14 runs per game and equates to 509 runs scored over a 162 game season. That's f'n terrible. That's not hyperbole. That's not a disgruntled fan exaggerating to make a point. It's fact.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Series preview: Diamondbacks at Phillies

Man, has it been ugly of late.
The Phillies are 8-22 since starting the season 22-15.
So which stretch is the real Phillies? Is it the team that roared out of the gate or the team that has taken it on the chin for a month now?
I think it's somewhere in the middle.
One thing is for certain, the team - and the fans - could use a confidence boost. The Phillies will spend the next six games playing two teams, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Minnesota Twins, that are a combined 36 games below .500.
They should turn it around. Going 3-3 isn't bad. Going 4-2 would be great. going 5-1 shouldn't be out of the question.

The games
Friday, June 17, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, June 18: 3:05 p.m.
Sunday, June 19: 1:35

The matchups
Robbie Ray (3-5, 4.67) vs Adam Morgan (1-5, 6.33)
Zack Grienke (9-3, 3.75) vs Jerad Eickhoff (4-8, 3.40)
Archie Bradley (2-3, 5.66) vs Zach Eflin (0-1, 27.00)

What we know about the Diamondbacks
The Arizona Diamondbacks were expected to be a good team this year, instead they're 10 games below .500. Paul Goldschmidt and Zack Grienke are doing their thing. Jake Lamb has 12 bombs and a .350 on-base percentage. Other than that, it's been a strange season. If the pitchers can keep Goldschmidt and Lamb from doing much damage, this is a series to win.

Key matchup
The first game. The Phillies are in dire need of a boost. Starting this series off with a win would be huge. If Adam Morgan can go six innings and keep the Diamondbacks to under 4 runs, there's a shot at a win in this game.

What we can't wait to see
Zach Eflin got rocked in his first start. That's OK. He's a solid prospect. Don't be shocked to see him bounce back on Sunday. If he can, the Phillies have a decent chance to take this series.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Howard Update

The Howard- when a player strikes out, commits an error, and hits a homerun all within the same game.  Lovingly named after the Philadelphia Phillies slugger, Ryan Howard.

Take a moment to the peruse the right sidebar of the blog and you'll see an ever growing list of players to commit The Howard in 2016. In fact, 54 Howards have been committed so far in 2016, which is a record setting pace. The previous high for a season was 129 Howards back in 2012, but this year that total might just be eclipsed. After all, batters are striking out more than ever before and the homerun has seen an uptick over years past.

It's no surprise the Chris Davis leads the pack with 3 Howards. Dude hits colossal homeruns, strikes out like 200 times a season, and naturally commits the occasional error. The big shocker is utility infielder Adam Rosales of the Padres sharing the lead with Davis. Rosales is not known for his power, and that's because he really doesn't have much (31 HR in 9 seasons). In fact, he's only hit 4 homeruns this year. That means 75% of the time he goes deep, he also whiffs and botches a play in the field.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hope on the Horizon

The Arms:
Zach Eflin - he's set to make his MLB debut this week in place of the injured Vince Velasquez. He's earned it too, having gone 5-2 over 11 starts, 68.1 IP, with 55 K, 2.90 ERA, and 0.88 WHIP in AAA.

Ben Lively - he's seen his stock rise as he's split 2016 between Reading and Lehigh Valley compiling a 10-0 record over 13 starts and 79 innings with 69 K, 1.94 ERA, and 0.89 WHIP. Added bonus, he can handle himself at the plate too, .267/.698 in 52 minor league plate appearances.

Jake Thompson - one of the highest rated pitchers in the Phillies system continues to impress in Triple-A. He's posted a 3.42 ERA and 1.23 WHIP over 12 starts and 68.1 innings. Not bad for a 22 year old that is roughly 5 years younger than the average age of the competition he faces.

Hoby Milner - a relief pitcher that is making a case for himself to be recognized. He's split his season between the Fightins and IronPigs, appearing in 20 games, pitching 30 innings, and posting a sparkling ERA/WHIP combo of 0.30/0.83; those are video game type numbers.

Edubray Ramos - a highly touted reliever, and for good reason, posting a 1.34 ERA and 0.65 WHIP over 33.2 innings combined between AA/AAA. Personally, I'd like to see him summoned immediately to take the roster spot of Elvis Araujo.

The Bats:
Nick Williams - the outfielder started the season slowly, but he's now having a nice campaign hitting .287/.790 and flashing glimpses of the power/speed combination that has fans in Philly clamoring for his promotion.

Dylan Cozens - this outfielder has fans salavating, as he's been one of the biggest breakout performers in all of minor leagues this season. He has the ability to do it all. He's currently slaying AA pitching, but a promotion to Lehigh Valley has to be on the horizon.  He's batting .294/.981 with 51 R, 19 DBL, 19 HR, 53 RBI, and 12 SB in 61 G.

Jorge Alfaro - the catcher of the future and damn he can hit.  .319/.834 in 37 G with 33 RBI. He's also gunned down 39% of would-be base stealers.

Rhys Hoskins - this dude can mash. The first baseman teams up with Cozens in the middle of Reading's lineup to wreak havoc on opposing pitchers. He's hit .283/.892 with 41 R, 13 DBL, 16 HR, and 46 RBI.

Roman Quinn - yet another outfielder, the Phillies are brimming with talent in the minors at this position. He's a speedster and has swiped 25 bases thus far while posting a respectable slash line of .289/.781 with 43 runs scored in 49 games.

Others of Note:
Cam Perkins/OF, Taylor Featherstone/UTL, Brock Stassi/1B, Alec Asher/SP, Andrew Knapp/C, and KC Serna/UTL.

The Beer:
Founders Brewing Company - Mosaic Promise. You'll be hard pressed to find a more aromatic pale ale than this (unless you travel to New England, wait in line, get limited bottles, and pay a pretty penny).  In other words, this is pretty damn good and is available in UNlimited quantities (from April - September) in your area for a fraction of the cost. As you may know, I have an affinity for Founders beers, and this one is just another reason why. It packs so much flavor and aroma into a mere 5.5% ABV. Aroma of citrus, pineapple, mango, grapefruit, grass, and slightly dank. Pours almost clear golden color with a nice dense white head. Taste is medium bitter and lightly sweet. Medium light body, easy drinking, average carbonation, enjoyable.
Commercial description - Mosaic Promise showcases two unique ingredients: Mosaic hops and Golden Promise malt. The versatility of the hop’s pleasing aroma and flavor characteristics and the traditional barley’s depth of flavor comprise this clean, rich, golden beer. We can brew complex beers with the best of them, but we recognize that there is also beauty in simplicity.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Series preview: Phillies at Nationals II

So the first two picks are in.
Mickey Moniak and Kevin Gowdy.
I'm not going to fake it and act like I know much more than most fans. Here's what I know from watching a couple of clips on the Internet and reading as much as I could last night:
Moniak looks like a solid prospect, maybe not the best in the draft, but a solid pick nonetheless. Gowdy looks like he's 11-years-old. He also looks like he's pitching against 8-year-olds. He dominates in most of the videos you find. You can see why teams dream of him filling out and developing into something special.
The Phillies are up first again today and you have to imagine they can go above slot.
Some bigger prospects remain.
-- Drew Mendoza was MLB.com's 36th ranked prospect but could be a tough signing.
-- Last summer, teams were higher on Nick Banks, who is now 101 on the list.
-- Kyle Funkhouser looked like a top 5 pick at one point, but slumped at the end of the season last year and returned to college. He saw a drop in velocity. Maybe that scared teams off, but he was still No.58.
-- Infielder Nonie Williams has some potential because of his wheels. That put him at 60 on the MLB list. He's still around.

None of these guys will play tonight in Washington, though.
So let's look at the Phillies prospects for turning around their three-week swoon in the standings.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Ranking the Phillies first round draft picks

The Phillies have drafted 52 players in the first round. Thirty-five of them have made the major leagues. It's not a bad record. They haven't picked any Hall of Famers, though two current players might get in. Here's a look at the Phillies record.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Mackanin is a Comedian

"It's very tough. Even if I do stay with Joseph more often, I still have to keep [Howard] sharp and give him an opportunity to hit to do something for us."
~Pete Mackanin, Philadelphia Phillies Manager
Keep Howard sharp? He's about as sharp as a perfect circle. Howard is batting .150/.543 on the season. That's over 50 games and he's struckout in a third of his plate apperances (53 K in 162 PA). He's 36 years old and is coming off the worst month of his career (.101/.421 in May). The only thing Howard is going to do for "us" is make outs. On the flipside there's the 24 year old Tommy Joseph, batting .311/.903 in his first 19 MLB games. Things that make you go "Hmmm..."

Monday, June 06, 2016

Series Preview: Cubs at Phillies

Sorry about not doing series previews on Monday and Thursday. I should have planned better on Monday, since we were visiting family. Thursday's esxuse is even worse, I forgot there was a game. I thought it was a Friday to Monday series.

Anyway, a lot has happened since we last met. Most notably, of course, is that the Phillies are 4-12 in their last 16 games and have fallen below .500.

So this is the real Phillies, right?

I'm not quite buying that. While I don't think this team is a threat to win 85 or more games, I'll take a 41-game sample size over a 16-game sample. That said, the Phillies have to face two of the teams that gave them trouble, Washington and, starting today, Chicago.

The Phillies have a chance to prove their resiliency this week.

We'll concern ourselves with the Cubs.

Let's look at what this series can tell us by the possible outcomes.

Phillies go 0-3
This isn't out of the realm of possibility. Chicago is the best team in baseball and recently swept the home nine, outscoring them by 12 runs. If the Phillies fall in all three, they'll leave the series 28-32 and headed to division leading Washington. Not where you want to be. It's hard to imagine the Phillies bouncing back from that.

Phillies go 1-2
This is a very likely outcome. The real problem with that is that it sends you out of a 10-game home stand having gone 2-8. That's unacceptable, even for a bad team.

Phillies go 2-1
This really should be the goal. All of a sudden, everyone saying "This is the real Phillies" has to deal with the fact that those "real Phillies" are back at .500 through the season's first 60 games. That's pretty impressive.

Phillies go 3-0
It's tough to see this happening, even if the Phillies offense seems to have woken up against Milwaukee. It's tough to imagine Adam Morgan shutting down the Cubs, and it's tough to imagine the Phillies doing all that well against a staff that held them to five runs in their last series. Stranger things have happened, but I'm not betting on this outcome.

So, let's break down the series

Friday, June 03, 2016

7 in a Row

For all of you that have difficulty counting beyond your 5 fingers on one hand, that's 7 losses in a row from our beloved Philadelphia Phillies.  Bye-bye winning record, hello losing (26-28). They've been outscored 37-12 over that span and currently score the least amount of runs per game (167 R/54 G = 3.09 runs per game).

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

At Sea Level, But Sinking

After nearly 2 months of playing winning baseball, the Phillies have fallen to 26-26 on the season (.500, aka - sea level).  They were playing above their heads and were due for a reality check. And damn, that reality is a bitch.  The Phillies are 2-9 over their last 11 games and are riding a 5 game losing streak.  Things are pretty dysmal in Philly because of the offense.  Odubel Herrera is the only everyday player performing well, everyone else has been a disappointment. Howard is a joke, Franco and Gavlis have been mediocre, Hernandez is a weak and doesn't use his speed well, the Rupp/Ruiz combo started the season on fire but have flamed out, Bourjos is as bad as everyone predicted, and Goeddel is an inconsistent rookie.  That ain't gonna score enough runs! The Phillies are averaging only 3.15 runs scored per game (164 R in 52 G). Unless you have the Nationals or Cubs pitching staff (each with sub 3.00 ERA), that's a recipe for losing.

To be honest, losing was expected this season. That's not the part that pisses me off. The part that has my goat is playing these has-beens like Howard, Ruiz, and Bourjos.  It's time to give new blood a chance. Joseph fulltime at 1st. Nick Williams in RF. Knapp or Alfaro at catcher. Emmanuel Burriss, WTF?! Callup Cam Perkins and see if he has potential to be a usefull 4th outfield/pinch hitter. Full infusion of youth. The rebuild is now, stop making the fans wait.

I know we're supposed to be patient and not rush the natural progression of the minor league prospects. This offense is worse than most imagined, certainly worse than I thought it would be. The Phillies are a sinking ship, but I'm strapped in and heading straight to the bottom with them.